Fab Lab Barcelona

Makers are making the difference. From Fab Lab Barcelona we have to express our admiration for the many initiatives from makers and fab labs born in Barcelona, Spain, Europe, and the World, which have made a difference, helping to save lives during the first moments of the COVID-19 outbreak. Kudos to you! Designers, engineers, makers, and citizens who have put their energy and efforts into making masks, valves, ventilators and other equipment needed by the health workers on the front line of the battlefield in hospitals. Digital fabrication is a fundamental skill in the 21st century, it has never been so obvious as today, when synchronized efforts of individuals, maker spaces, fab labs, small and large companies, local governments, and other organizations, have made it possible to nurture and support an organic and distributed network of designers and manufacturers at different scales. As a Fab Lab, we have distributed our fabrication capacity across Barcelona in order for our team to contribute to the fabrication efforts that emerged from society. We have also been able to assist to connect networks of people in the many channels and groups where action has taken place! We hope this is the beginning of a deeper transformation happening in (almost) everything, and to keep collaborating together to make it a reality.


We have seen that domestic machines and fab labs are amazing to respond to an emergency but in order to satisfy sustained demand for production is important to connect to larger networks of manufacturers in cities and regions, as well as have the collaborative design platforms for synchronization of efforts, plus the processes in place for validation and certification… much faster than it is now. The industry has been amazing too, during this time of crisis we have seen how capable it is to adapt its supply chain and assembly line relatively quickly. To have standards and regulations is important, especially in health, but also for other needs in cities due to the shortage of supply chains. The notion of Distributed Design and Manufacturing is foundational for the Fab Cities. The momentum created by the response to the current emergency could become the accelerator for the transition we believe has started years ago, and right now demands systemic transformation in our economy, industry, and the social contract that have lasted two centuries.

Futurists and foresight experts might be still looking for their notes to find any sign of anticipation or prediction to this new normal, which might last just months, weeks, maybe days, but that it is definitely transitional. However, we are not going back to normal. Reality is more liquid than ever, and predicting the future is definitely an idea of the past. The Master in Design for Emergent Futures students is exploring how the world is responding to new contexts of necessity due to COVID-19. We are looking at how collaborative networks are self-organizing, or how domestic spaces are changing, and how people are sharing what they learn or feel. We are confined together, finding new meanings to hyper isolation and hyper-connectivity, and incorporating uncertainty in our everyday life. We are having a tiny glimpse of what it meant to be a hunter-gatherer more than 14.000 years ago. The Master in Design for Emergent Futures is incorporating the new Weak Signals and is adapting its contents for a more distributed and networked education experience, building with the Fab Lab and the Fab City networks what we believe will be the foundational steps for the mass transformation of (almost) everything.

Tomas Diez.